Guideline Charge

Travel Costs on federally funded contracts and grants


The following guideline outlines the allowable costs for grants, contracts, and sub‐awards at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). The Office of Research follows policies outlined in The University of Texas Travel Policy and The Office of Management and Budget Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance) 2 CFR 200 200.474.

The Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) and OMB Uniform Guidance provide the basic criteria to determine allowability of travel.

Guideline Statement

Travel is allowable as a direct cost when such travel will provide direct benefit to the project. The terms and conditions of the individual agreement should be reviewed prior to incurring and/or processing any travel cost. When there is a conflict between university policy and award requirements the most restrictive policy applies.

Guidelines for Travel


  • The proposal should include a budget for foreign and domestic travel costs and the proposal must have explicitly stated justification for the travel.
  • Travel is allowable as a direct cost where such travel will provide direct benefit to the project and comply with UTD, Sponsor, Federal and State policies and regulation.
    • With the exception of the Principal Investigator or Co-P.I., travel expenses can only be charged to a federal project when the traveler is exerting effort on the project during the time of travel
      • Written Sponsor approval is required to pay travel expenses on a federal sponsored project for a traveler that is not exerting effort on the project at the time of travel.
      • A Principal Investigator (including Co-PI) may charge travel expenses to the project at any time as long as the travel is approved by the project.
      • Costs for employees working on the project may include per diems or subsistence allowances and other travel-related expenses, such as mileage allowances if travel is by personal automobile.
  • Travel charged to sponsored projects must be approved by the Principal Investigator (PI) or the designees.
    • Before making travel arrangements, make sure that travel is allowed under the terms of an agreement or contract.
      • In some cases, the sponsor’s written approval may be required prior to any trip.
    • If foreign travel is not listed in the approved budget, some Sponsors require prior written approval.
      • In some cases, a Sponsor will require prior written approval for foreign travel even if it is listed in the proposal/application.
      • All requests to obtain prior Sponsor approval for travel on a sponsored project should be submitted through the pre-award office well in advance of the desired travel.
      • The request should provide information regarding the purpose of the travel, number of persons traveling, destination, number of days, and estimated cost.
    • Please see current Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) Prior Approval System requirements for any travel changes exceeding the approved budget by $1,000 or 25%, whichever is greater.

Domestic Travel

Domestic travel is travel performed within the recipient’s own country. For the U.S., it includes travel within and between any of the 50 States of the U.S. and its possessions, territories, Canada and, in most cases Mexico.

Foreign Travel

  • Foreign travel is travel outside of the United States, its territories and possessions, Canada and, in most cases, Mexico. However, for a foreign organization as described above, foreign travel means travel outside that country.
    • The definition of foreign travel may differ from sponsor to sponsor. Therefore, each award must be examined for this definition
    • When an award is Federally funded, the employee must comply with the requirements of the Fly America Act. Please see the Fly America Act for further information.

Entertainment/Side trips

Entertainment costs are not reimbursable.

  • Entertainment expenses include costs for meals other than the traveler, amusement, diversion or social activities.
    • Meal expenses are allowable and are not deemed entertainment when a business meeting discussing and/or collaborating on the research takes place – justification must be provided
    • In order to be deemed a meeting, there must be an agenda and a list of attendees and their role in the project and these must be provided with the reimbursement request


  • Employees in travel status overnight will be reimbursed the lesser of the actual cost of meals or the GSA meals allowance. Itemized receipts are not required.
    • Note: There may be some restrictions on claiming per diem imposed by a Sponsor - i.e. the Sponsor requires itemized receipts.
  • Meals for Non-traveler. The cost for the meals of a non-traveler or individual not specified in the award is not reimbursable as a travel expense.


  • Policy allows for reimbursement of actual reasonable expenses with itemized receipt/folio.
  • Travelers are strongly encouraged to use standard accommodations at reasonably priced mid-market hotels or motels

Car Rental

  • Rental cars should be used when they are less expensive than alternative means of transportation (e.g., taxi, car service, or train) or where there are convenience or safety issues that justify the additional cost.
    • Rental of up to a mid-sized car is an allowable expense.
    • Exceptions may be made if there are three or more employees traveling together, if the traveler is transporting sizeable equipment, or if there are other valid business needs. The exception must be documented on the traveler’s expense report.


The Office of Post Award Management requires all paid original merchant receipts or invoices issued by the supplier or service provider to document and substantiate the business transactions. A digital image of the original receipt is allowable provided that it is legible and the paper receipt is destroyed.